Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Being There: A Blog(h)er Ice Cream Social (and Oatmeal Cookie Ice Cream)

When I went to BlogHer'12, the thing that most moved me was meeting the women that I'd gotten to know online over the past two and a half years.  For all of my commitment to social media, because of its ability to connect people from across the globe around common passion and purpose, there's something about making a face-to-face connection with that somehow solidifies those connections, and makes you feel a bit less like you're alone behind your computer screen (not to mention that the women I finally met up with there are just as amazing in person, if not more so, as they are online).  I firmly believe that there are some times when there is no substitute for being there in person, for being present together even in silence; being online doesn't allow for that presence, because when you're silent online, you are invisible.

I've made a habit of connecting people.  You might call it an obsession.  When I worked at the university, I connected students with students like them through peer mentoring programs that I created.  I connected faculty with students through faculty mentoring programs.  At home, I connected working moms with one another through a working moms' group, the only one like it in my county, which, unlike so many moms' groups I encountered, appreciates the different balance of a 9 to 5 commitment outside the home with all of the other things that need to get done when you have a family to manage, too.   So it seemed only natural that the wheels started spinning when I couldn't find a generic organization of bloggers in my state.  I started to become curious about other bloggers out there who lived near me, especially those in the ALI blogosphere.

So much of what many of us publish online, especially if we blog anonymously, erases our geographic uniqueness, sometimes with good reason.  I wanted to see if, given this erasure, I could still identify and gather together a group of women bloggers from my area, and see what might happen.  I decided to host an ice cream social.

As luck would have it, Mel was happy to help by publishing a blurb in the LFCA, and six women responded: Emily from A Blanket 2 Keep, the anonymous blogger who writes With Just A Little Help, S. (who has taken a break from blogging to focus on her own family), Lauren from What's In Lauren's Tummy (formerly also from What's In Lauren's Uterus), and Lisa from the Mommy Gauntlet--three of whom I'd never read before.  I went to work making honey lavender ice cream, oatmeal cookie ice cream, and my own version of Chubby Hubby (a special request from Emily, the secrets for which I will never reveal here).  Though Lauren couldn't make it at the last minute due to a minor catastrophe, and Lisa had an unfortunate significant family emergency, the other four of us spent two hours talking as if we'd mostly known each other for years.

It made me think a lot about something I have posted a lot about here before, about women supporting each other, taking care of each other, looking out for each other, even if we can't assume that we know what every woman needs simply because we share elements of our anatomy.  (I'm well aware that Feminism has become feminisms--heck, that was already true back when I was in grad school and reading the anthology du jour--and that women are not a monolith but a diaspora, thank you very much.)  We were all very different women, coming from different stages in our lives.  But there in my living room, we talked about the things that connected us, even despite our differences.  We talked a little bit about whether there might be a way to make bloggers who wanted to be resources more visible to other women in their own region, without compromising anonymity.  Sometimes we didn't talk at all.  And as everyone was getting ready to leave, we talked about getting together again.

Things We Don't Talk About: Women's Voices from the Red Tent had its world premiere on September 15th.  There are a host of upcoming screenings around the country.  The film summary says: "Spontaneous and organic, a Red Tent is a red textile space where women gather to rest, renew, and often share deep and powerful stories about their lives. The Red Tent movement is changing the way that women interact and support each other by providing a place that honors and celebrates women, and by enabling open conversations about the things that women don’t want to talk about in other venues. Things We Don’t Talk About weaves together healing narratives from inside the Red Tent to shine a spotlight on this vital, emergent women’s tradition. The film provides us an opportunity to remember, to listen, to know, and to find what it is we need to bring back to our communities to help awaken the voices of women."

Yes, there are places we do this all online now, too.  BlogHer, for example.  But sometimes we need to just be there.

Most of you know that it's National Breast Cancer Awareness Month here in the U.S.  I'll talk about that in a later post.  But it's also Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  And Pregnancy and Infant Loss Rememberance Month.  And while none of these things affect only women, they, along with the fact that the election that is practically upon us, are reason enough for us to talk about about ways we might be able to better have each others' backs, not just on the internet, but in the "real" world, too.

Oatmeal Cookie Ice Cream
with thanks to Jeni Britton's practically foolproof ice cream base, which I have altered a bit here

1 T. plus 1 t. corn starch
2 c. milk
1 c. heavy cream
1/3 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. sugar
1 T. corn syrup (optional, really)
1 stick cinnamon
3 T. cream cheese (or goat cheese)
1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/8 t. nutmeg
3 oatmeal cookies, crumbled
1/2 c. raisins
dash of vanilla

Mix about 2 T. of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry.  Whisk the cream (or goat) cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth. In a third bowl, soak the raisins in about 2/3 c. water and a dash of vanilla.  Fill a large bowl with ice and water.

Combine the remaining milk, cream, sugars and cinnamon stick in a 4-quart saucepan, bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 4 minutes, Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and remove the cinnamon stick, but don't discard it yet.

Gradually whisk the hot milk into the cream (or goat) cheese until smooth. Add the ground cinnamon and nutmeg and return the cinnamon stick to the mixture. Submerge the mixture partway in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.  Drain the raisins.

Remove the cinnamon stick again and pour the ice cream base into the frozen canister and spin until thick and creamy.  During the last five minutes, add the raisins and crumbled cookies.  Pack the ice cream into a storage container.   Press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.
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  1. I'm so glad your ice cream social turned out so well. I remember seeing the invitation on LFCA and thinking that if I had been visiting my parents I would have been close enough to attend. I love the idea of meeting some online friends in person but I don't think that will happen for me anytime soon so I'm glad it's happening for you. That ice cream looks incredible!

  2. OHHHH. I totally need to make that ice cream.

  3. I'm so glad your social went well. What a great idea! I've met up with several local bloggers, and it's been fun getting to know them better.

  4. I wish I could have been there -- and not just for your culinary creations! I always love meeting bloggers IRL.

    It was so special to help Tessa connect the apple pie recipe we're going to make with the nice lady whose hand she held while walking in midtown Manhattan that magical night :-).

  5. This sounds so incredibly fun: both from a foodie POV and a social angle. I'm so glad you did this and had a good time.

    Yay IRL and URL friends!

  6. I am just catching up on your blog--I love your idea of the ice cream social. I'm going to check out that LFCA to see how you advertised it, and I'm very interested in ideas to connect bloggers in the same area without comprimising anonymity, since I blog anonymously. I'm so glad you had a nice time with everyone!

  7. So sad I missed this - for the company AND for this amazing-looking ice cream! My goodness!

  8. This was such a wonderful get together! Meeting more amazing bloggers in the area was great. We do have to do this again! Cookie swap!


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